“I’m not too sure how good of an idea this is”………
………This is my main thought as I’m composing my email to Dave who runs Dynamic Martial Arts in Silverdale Auckland.
It’s now been 1 full day since stepping off the plane at Auckland airport following a mammoth 60 hour trip from Manchester. All in all, I’m feeling pretty good for my first venture into a time zone 13 hours ahead, but there is the odd feeling of still being on the plane which is swooping in on me every couple of hours. The idea of getting hit with this weird feeling of ‘land sickness’ (?) I’ve been having while someone is sitting on top of me and trying to choke me doesn’t sound like all that appealing…….…but………..there was an certain excitement about getting this started and making the idea a bit more real!
I’d found the gym website from a Google search for ‘BJJ in Silverdale’. Based on the class timetable and the website, the gym seemed mainly geared towards kickboxing, however it did have a BJJ class on Wednesday nights and that was going to be my only opportunity to train while we were stopping in Silverdale (about a 45 minute drive from Auckland city centre). The gym was also within 30 minutes walking distance which was ideal considering we didn’t have a car to hand.
“Let’s do it”……. I composed and sent the following email to Dave….First of many, I’m hoping.
I hope you don’t mind me emailing about an enquiry I have (I got your email off the Dynamic Martial Arts website)?
I’m from Manchester UK and I’ve just recently taken a time out on my job to do some travelling for 12 months.
As part of this I’m hoping to start a blog about keeping up BJJ training in each of the countries I’m going to visit (It’s not up and running at the moment but will be on www.whitebeltabroad.com).
Auckland is the first stop on the trip and we’re currently stopping in Silverdale, and as the DMA gym is so close I’m hoping I could pop in as the first gym to start it off?
Before I come down just wanted to check that this is ok with you and a few questions:
– I saw on the website that the first week is free to train. Is this correct and still ok?
– Are the BJJ classes in Gi or no-Gi? And if they are Gi would it be possible to borrow or rent one for the class? (I wasn’t able to pack one in my case)
– Is the class schedule still the same as on the website?
– For my blog would anyone mind if I take some photos of the gym and training and/or possibly go-pro videos?
Thanks for your help,
Fast forward to the next day and it’s an hour before the class starts and I haven’t heard anything back yet……this is bad planning on my part as I only found the gym online and sent the email late in the evening the night before…….Ok, I’m just going to rock on up anyway and see how it goes.
When I arrived at the gym, there was a kickboxing class already in progress. I snuck in the door and went to the reception desk and was greeted by Dave.
“Hey Dave, my names Craig. I’m not sure if you got it or not but I sent an email about a drop in session?”
Dave’s face lit up, “Yeah, Hi Craig nice to meet you! Sorry I didn’t manage to get back in time, just had a busy day”, and he nodded over to the mat where the class was in progress and we heard about 30 kicks snap against pads in unison.
Dave was really welcoming and was happy for me to take part in class for free. Dave also seemed to be on board with what I was trying to do while I was travelling. “I think it’s a really good idea”, he said, “Can I just ask that before you publish anything online, that you send a proof over to to check it first?”
I hadn’t really thought of this up until now but it did make complete sense …..at the end of the day, this is their business, and it’s a risky thing to allow strangers to start publishing online what their (possibly incorrect) first impressions are.
“Of course, makes sense”, and I made a mental note to include this in any future contact to gyms for the rest of the journey. I see it as them doing me a massive favour by letting me train….I’m not out to cause trouble.
I got changed into the spare gi that Dave had at the gym (I have a few gi’s back in Manchester at my mum’s currently….they are just a bit too big and heavy to take up the valuable space my travel bag). It was a little oversized but definitely something I could work with.
After changing, I came back and continued chatting to Dave as the Kickboxing class finished up….although I started getting distracted with something spotted in the corner of my eye…….“Is that……..Is that a créche?”
At the end of the mat…..behind the hanging heavy bags…..just to the right of the massive training tyres was a little, multi coloured play area!
“Yeah…..a lot of parents want to train so we like to have some space if they bring their kids along”
“I’ve never seen that before”……I loved it…I loved the idea of kids being able to watch their mum or dad smash a bag next to them while they played with a few trucks and other kids in the créche!
The class had emptied out by now and some BJJ-ers were circling around the far end of the matt.
There was a lot of shaking hands, hugging and greeting each time another member arrived….it was obviously a tight-knit group of people but everyone went out of the way to come over to me ‘the new guy’ and introduce themselves and have a chat.
The class starts, the main instructor is injured and Dave has let me know that Joas (Alberton) is picking up the class. Joas is a purple belt and normally trains in Auckland City centre. He seems to have a very chilled out way about him and not only seems very technically knowledgeable, but had a really interesting/almost philosophical way of talking about certain positions and mind-sets he has while sparring.
We worked on armbar defence concepts for the main part of the class. It was a really interesting way of working as opposed to the ‘technique demonstration and drill’ method I’d been used to, Joas discussed the concepts of the position and demonstrated a number of key points and methods of thinking about escape….and then we partnered up and tried some of those things out….was a really interesting take on it!
We then moved onto the lesson plan – A drill of a side control escape which contained the hip out and knee in escape, a telephone armbar from that recovered guard position followed by allowing the pass and the hip escape to belly down and a double leg into top side control. The positions were then reversed and we took the drill in turns on a loop.
Then a nice surprise! The class schedule on the website showed 1 hour but at the end of the session it looked like there was 30 mins rolling included. I checked my go-pro……battery dead……hmmmm my brain still hasn’t caught up to this time zone yet.
The rolling was pretty tough…..everyone seemed very relaxed, but the combination of the jet lag and getting used to the heat was something I was finding difficult to adjust to.
In one of the rolls my oversized gi came in handy though…….I got caught in a clock choke but my partner couldn’t tighten it up…..no matter how deep the grip, my gi always seemed to give me more slack! :-)
Overall it was a great way to start. Everyone was so nice and friendly and were all happy to have a group photo at the end of class.
I thanked the instructor again for letting me step in and he told me “to come down and train anytime” at his gym in Auckland…..thank you……Could be my next lead :-)
And just to 100% certify the amazingly friendly vibe and nice people I’ve been experiencing since arriving in New Zealand, 5 minutes after leaving the gym as I was walking back to the house, I hear a car screech along next to me and stop………. “Hey new guy! Where you going? You need a ride?”
BJJ people are great!